The Durham Regional Police’s helicopter, Air-1, has proven once again to be a valuable tool in our arsenal.
The helicopter was called out 812 times during the past year and arrived first on scene 445 times, making 168 arrests. A number of these incidents involved impaired drivers on our roads, suspicious persons or vehicles, break and enters in progress, robberies and alarm calls.
The helicopter’s ability to arrive on scene within minutes is a tremendous advantage when crimes are in progress and when 911 calls are received from the more remote, rural areas of the region. Just two weeks ago, Air-1 was instrumental in preventing a high-speed pursuit of a stolen vehicle on Highway 401. By following the car from above, Air-1 was able to track the vehicle’s movements until York Region’s Air-2 took over in Toronto. The suspect was eventually arrested without incident and a high-speed pursuit was avoided on our public roads.
The Air Support Unit is also celebrating the conclusion of the largest drug bust in Ontario’s history. The birds-eye view afforded by Air-1 allowed our officers to observe a massive marihuana grow operation taking place near Orillia in the summer of 2001. The unit notified the Ontario Provincial Police, who subsequently seized over 55 truckloads of marihuana with an estimated value of 24 million dollars. In December of last year, the accused received a two and a half year jail sentence from the courts.
A Richmond Hill man is alive and well today thanks to the keen observation of members of our Air Support Unit. A skydiving accident left the victim unconscious and suspended from a tree in a rugged and heavily forested area of Hamilton in September of 2002. Using the helicopter’s powerful searchlight and his keen observation skills, PC Rick Ross of the Air Support Unit was able to spot a slight speck of colour under some trees, directing ground workers to the skydiver’s exact location.
The future of Air-1 looks bright as the planned replacement of our leased helicopter continues on schedule. The Durham Regional Police is a pioneer in Ontario for its use of a helicopter as a law enforcement and crime prevention tool. Air-1 remains the longest serving municipal police helicopter in the area.
thumbnail (JPG file, 4.3K bytes)
The DRP's Air-1 touches down (JPG file, 15.1K bytes)